Alcarinque felt strange. Ghet would forever be grateful to Chez for the
refuge he'd given her, a place to hide from pain and responsibility
that was more than she could take. She'd never really been completely
free of it, though, and as she stepped out of the portal, the full
weight dropped back onto her shoulders. She'd never been good at hiding
her emotions, and even had he not been wired into her soul, the pain
and guilt would have been plain for her husband to see.
see him, to speak, it was so hard. She couldn't pretend things were in
any way normal. She reached up a hand to stroke his cheek; tender,
desperate. Blue eyes filled with tears. "Oh my love. I..." She looked
down, choking back a laugh. "We need to talk."
simply stood where he was, silently watching his wife. He'd been seated
in one of the large, arched windows in their apartments, simply gazing
outside, but not quite seeing the small amount of activity taking place
down below in the stately rose gardens that fronted the courtyard and
palace. The gardeners were out today, keeping order amongst the many
two weeks had been a new sort of hell for the Elen, quite apart from
what he'd experienced before his wife's healing.
do," he finally said, reaching out to gently cup Ghetsuhm's chin and
tilt her face upward. He regarded her tear-filled eyes, lost in their
unique denim depths for several moments. It had been a frightful time
within his soul these past two weeks and what he saw in his wife's eyes
and felt in her soul caused a shaky, feverish sensation of anxiety to
seize his body and pause his heart for several beats.
she looked so good, tears and all. A smile curved his lips and he
though... I've missed you," he said. "Come and sit?" He indicated the
window seat, more than ample enough to seat two. He caught at her hand
and squeezed it, relieved when he felt his heart begin beating again.
nodded, not quite trusting her voice, and went where he led her. She
wanted to curl against his chest, under his arm, seeking comfort, but
it wouldn't be fair. Keeping hold of his hand, she settled turned
towards him, so they could see each other's faces. "Okay. There are
some things I need to tell you. I... I've never lied to you, and I've
been kind of proud of that, that you always knew how I felt. I never
lied to you about Ro. You knew I still loved him and you never once
made me feel bad about that. Except... now I feel like I have lied to
you, because I've kept things from you."
and rubbed a hand over her eyes. This was just the first step along a
terrible path. "Galain... when I brought Ro back... I was mad. The
illness and the stress had snapped me, and I wouldn't have done what I
did otherwise. But I still did it. I took Rhagi away because I didn't
intend to come back. Galain, love, I offered to marry him. I'm sorry."
there went his heartbeat again. The Elen's smile wavered his expression
took on an uncertainty. No... he'd never actively begrudged Ghetsuhm
her love for Y'Roden. He'd had his own confusions about love for too
long to focus on jealousy or anger when it came to what his wife felt
for others. He'd always felt an immense security in her love, knowing
they'd chosen each other on purpose, and had overcome an enormous
amount of adversity to achieve what they had now.
were mad at the time. There's nothing to apologize for. You were sick
and when you're sick and out of your mind you do things. I mean... that
though would have to be the most absolutely insane thing possible," he
said, speaking slowly, trying to inject a tone of humor into his words.
The look in his eyes didn't match though. The tears in his wife's eyes
told him she wasn't finished. Surely this was the only thing she'd kept
from him though, and it wasn't pleasant... but it was survivable.
squeezed Ghetsuhm's hand gently.
else?" he found himself speaking again, his mouth operating
independently of the rest of himself.
winced. For some reason, all the calm and reasonable just made it
worse. She shook her head slowly, not sure what she was denying. "I
would have gone through with it. I would always have hated the way it
was done, but I wouldn't have backed away. Neither of us remembered
what happened, by the time he came out, I was unconscious... he didn't
know I'd made the offer until that day I saw him in S'Hea, after I
healed. We're still trying to piece together exactly what happened.
Once he realised... Galain, it's what he wants. Me, to himself. To know
how close it had been, well, it was all a bit overwhelming." Next step.
"I very nearly slept with him. I would have, if it hadn't been for...
well. I would have. And if the circumstances arose again, the result
would be the same." Her voice cracked. "How could I do that to you? How
could I live married to you and know I was going to cheat on you?"
the hand he was squeezing.
mean to, but it happened and he could only stare down and then away,
pulling himself away from her and backing up against the stone behind
you..." he repeated, almost mindlessly. "How could you live married to
me and know this?"
like he was merely repeating her, but the inflection cast upon the
words as he spoke indicated he was doing more than that. He gave his
wife a puzzled look.
"You said I
was everything to you," he finally said. "Why cheat?" He was trying to
focus on the fact that she'd not cheated, but in her heart she had...
and she would. She's said this.
now? the words were silent.
winced, her breath hissing through her teeth. She jerked her hand away,
jarring it, but the physical pain was almost welcome. It distracted her
from the pain in her heart. "Why cheat?" she said bitterly, harshness
entering her voice, "Why have I always cheated? Because that's who I
am. Because the pull is too strong. Dammit, I don't want to hurt you! I
don't want to hurt either of you, but I wasn't left that choice. I
wanted it to be enough, I wanted to stay with you forever and be your
strong, dependable, decent wife. But that isn't who I am! I have to
deal, somehow, with the fact that you both love me, and I love both of
you, and I fit with both of you, and I have to break one of you in
her broken hand in her whole one, remotely wondering why the tears just
wouldn't fall. "It's not supposed to be like this. There's supposed to
be one path for everyone that's right, one person that makes them
complete. If you listen to your heart, you're supposed to know what to
do. And all I learned was that my heart will always be divided against
itself. I will never be whole, and I will never be free of pain. I'll
never be content. I'll love the both of you until I die. There is
nothing I can do, nothing I can will, that will change that.
time it came to this, I thought I had no decision to make, because I
was bonded to you. I told Ro over and over again, I had no choice. I
left him, I walked away from him after he saved my life, and I went to
you. I can't do that to him again." Now that it came down to it, she
was beginning to wonder if he might seriously hurt her. Well. She
couldn't say she didn't deserve it. She might well have chosen death
over this responsibility. "I'm so goddamn sorry, Galain. This is the
worst thing I've ever done in my life. I'm leaving you."
three words hit Galain like a slap to the face and he sat there, his
face draining of color. Disbelief, incomprehension, then disbelief
again dashed through his mind. Beneath it all a gleeful little demon
danced and capered, shrieking, "You couldn't make a choice! She did!
You couldn't make a choice! But she did!"
dark and supposedly long dead suddenly ate the gleeful creature and the
glazed look that had entered Galain's eyes disappeared as he sat
forward and then inched toward Ghetsuhm.
you've lost your mind again?" he asked, mindlessly reaching for her
broken hand. He wanted to heal what he'd broken. "I mean... gods... you
know..." He stared away into the chamber they were in and tilted his
head, his mind tripping backward to the day they had married each
other. "So was what we said to each other at Ringė just what you felt
at the time?
lie?" Galain asked, yanking himself away from her mind suddenly,
harshness entering his voice before he suddenly stood and paced away.
"Of course it was. I mean... you kept going back to him after all. You
had to save his life. He's your friend after all and you loved him
and..." He shut up and then sat down beside her again.
everything we've been through? Tell me you're just playing a weird
joke, okay? He's been fine without you. He married Silverthorn for
pity's sake. They were perfect for each other. You and I... we've been
perfect for each other. We've just had a rough patch is all and things
are going to get better and if we just sleep on this we'll wake up and
was now beating violently and the Elen tried to stop and breathe. He
felt himself slipping.
shrugged, helplessly. There was nothing else she could do. In what he
said, she heard the echo of her own words to Y'Roden, her anger at how
contradictory it all seemed, her doubt. "Whatever anyone says, is what
they think is true at the time. That doesn't mean it will be true
forever. Everything I said was true. Most of it still is. Galain, I
held you, I comforted you, for months after An'Thaya left you. You
loved her. That didn't make your love for me untrue. When I married
you, it was in full knowledge that it might not last forever, that it
might end in a horrible, painful train-wreck, and I was prepared to
risk that, for love. You were already married to someone else, for
been happy. We've been very happy. The vicious irony is that everything
was just starting to go right for us. But yes. We have been going
through a rough patch, we both know it. I can't go on, shutting myself
away from my husband, pretending I don't feel what I do, terrified to
let you see to the core of me, because it will hurt you. And you can't
wake up tomorrow and go on as if I hadn't told you these things. You
couldn't let me go to S'Hea, as I have to, and not think I was making
love to him. Galain, it won't work. I just... I know that if I stay
with you, I'll only hurt you more."
was perhaps more devastating than her words and Galain simply stared at
her now and then bowed his head. He silently reached for her hand and
let his consciousness settle into the makeup of the soft flesh he held
as he wove and knit the broken cells and bones back together. When he
was finished he very carefully placed her hand into her lap and
withdrew from her before looking back up into his wife's eyes.
keep you here," he said. "I've never tried to keep you where you didn't
want to be be, nor have I tried to stop you from going or doing what
you need to do.
thought... I misunderstood... I thought we had forever you know.
That'll teach me to think. I misunderstood." He tried to smile, but the
haggard look of grief twisted the expression into a grimace he quickly
wiped away. He heard wisdom in her words, the recognition of who she
was and what she needed in her life, but it was shattering him inside.
He regarded her for several long moments. He supposed she had done
enough shattering within her own self of late, but it wouldn't be he
who would put her back together again. She'd chosen someone else.
guess... I guess that's it. You're right -- this time I wouldn't let
you return to S'Hea. I couldn't. And you have to go, as you say. So
that leaves us --" he broke off suddenly and shut his eyes, feeling his
soul plummeting downward at breakneck speed.
in and wrapped an arm around his shoulders, her soul full of grief.
"Oh, love, you weren't wrong. I never saw this coming. A year ago...
well. You know all this. I forgot myself enough to trust in forever.
I'll never do that again. Never." She laid her head on his shoulder.
"I'm going to miss you so much. It hurts me, to think about being
without you, you've been a part of me for so long." Finally, the tears
started to fall, now that she'd lost the insulation of the pain and
frustration. "I love you, and I'll never forgive myself for this. Look
after our baby for me, okay? Once things have settled down, we can talk
about when I'm going to see her. I'll say goodbye, though." In truth,
for herself, she'd have taken Aarien with her despite all the confusion
in her life, but she knew, she couldn't do that to Galain. Their
daughter was so full of life she burned with it, perhaps enough for two.
he was nodding his head, but his consciousness was swimming desperately
in a maelstrom of confusing emotions. She would never trust in forever
again, and neither would he. That was the only certain thing he could
sort out from all this. No more forever. She'd been the only one he'd
really wanted it with anyway and without her by his side? Forever could
go to hell.
him dangerously toward anger and vague images of the violent breakup
he'd endured before tugged at his mind and Galain yanked his thoughts
away from that direction. Not here, not now, he told himself silently.
Perhaps he was growing up after all, or perhaps not.
you, Ghet. My gods I love you," he said fervently. "You know you have
whatever you want or need from me. Okay?" He paused and nearly choked
on a hard intake of breath. "Go see Aarien. She has a lot of things
she's been saving for you." His voice cracked on the last three words
and he could no longer trust himself to speak aloud. Instead he wrapped
his own arms around Ghetsuhm and buried his face into that wondrous
hair of hers, and then abruptly he broke away.
to Galain, her mind full of fleeting fragments of memory from their
time together, the simple incredulity that she would never hold him
again, never know the glory of being so much a part of him. And yet...
they'd changed each other over the time they'd been together, and those
changes would endure.
She took a
deep, shaky breath. Clean break. She'd demanded it of Y'Roden, she'd
give no less to Galain. "Thank you, love. I can't... I can't tell you
how much it means. Whatever I can do to make it easier, you only have
to ask. I'll see Aarien, I'll get my things. Before that... I'm sorry,
I know it's a lot all at once. But we have to break the bond. I don't
know how to do it, but I talked to Venus, and she says she can take
care of it. It'll just be like... sliding apart." She rubbed her hands
over her tear-streaked face. "I don't like the idea, but the
alternative is worse."
Galain's thoughts took a wry turn. He'd have to get his heart checked
at the rate it was failing so frequently of late. And then he shook
himself mentally and understood why he was feeling as he was. Of course
the alternative was worse. She was leaving him, going willingly to a
man he disliked so intensely it hurt to his core. And if he was still
bonded to her he'd still feel everything she felt -- for Y'Roden, and
not for himself. Because hells... this choice she'd made meant that
really... really she didn't want him anymore. She would fly to Y'Roden
with all that she was and he couldn't bear that.
already talked to her goddess.
face crumpled and he buried his face with his hands.
was about all he could manage and it was silent. Just like sliding
apart? Could it be so damn simple? How? After so long? It was
unbelievable. All of this was simply unbelievable.
down, eyes on her hands, unable to bear the pain she was inflicting on
top of her own. The call she sent out was tired, plaintive, her misery
strong enough to swamp the power of Venus's blessing.
power, when she came, was subdued, too. Love had many aspects and she
was capable of wearing them all. Venus had been the one to put them
together; it was only appropriate that she separate them. It was she
who had said those words at their wedding. Love, however,
cannot be promised; it comes of its own accord and may leave just as unstoppably. The future
cannot be seen clearly. So I will not ask you to make promises to each
other, vows that might, through no fault, prove impossible to keep.
presence, she placed her hands on their bowed, grieving heads, and
spoke a word that had no sound, just a shaping of power. Behind her
closed eyes, Ghet saw, or thought she saw, a glowing orange ball, a
great sun, slowly become two, one golden and too beautiful to look
upon, the other fierce and red, already flickering and mutable.
not physically, but the loss was palpable. So alone... Ghet recognised
the feeling from when Ro had taken the fragment of his soul from her.
Like losing a part of herself, a sense, feeling sealed off in a tiny
box. For the first time in nearly six hundred years, her soul was hers
alone. She cried out in grief, tears running freely over her face.
Galain pulled Ghetsuhm to himself, and when he tried to say something
all he could was cry out with her. It shouldn't have been so simply
done, so painlessly effected, and yet here they were now, two separate
beings again, closed off from each other in every way possible. It had
been even longer for Galain since he'd been so completely alone and he
felt like he'd been struck deaf, dumb and blind all at once. And
there'd been no last chance to feel the heated pulsing of the golden
roses over their chests. It was all cold now. So cold and so... despair
and grief and disbelief settled like a pall over his soul and all he
could do was cry with the woman who had been his wife, lover and friend
for so long.